Dope Lesson – ESL Activities For Teaching Slang

These days, children are so active on social media and the internet in general that they pick up little bits of English everywhere. Where previous generations might only have had a textbook and a teacher, kids now have so many ways of learning language. Some methods popular with my students include watching Youtube ‘influencer’ videos, listening to English or American music, and even playing live videogames with people from around the world! All of this is fantastic interaction and comprehension practice, but might not be the proper English that you’re trying to teach in your lessons!

For me, the slang that they pick up isn’t a bad thing. only a way to make your classes, and their education, more interesting. So stay with me, I’ve got a few activities to share with you!

For the purposes of giving examples, I’ve used a list of common slang words from ‘myenglishteacher’, very useful! Check it out here; 55 Most Commonly Used British and American Slang Words

Word Matching

This is one is great fun for intermediate ability students, they get really stuck in and you might find that they already know some of the words!

Choose 20 or so slang words that you like and you think that they might find useful, and write either the proper English equivalent, or the definition next to it. Or both!

Unreal! …………………………. That’s amazing!……………………An expression of surprise or delight.

Bob’s your uncle……………….All finished / There you have it!………………A phrase that means your success is guaranteed.

Once you have this, cut them up and mix them. I would suggest doing it as a pair activity, so you need to do this for however many pairs you have in class.

They must put the slang words with the appropriate definitions or proper English equivalents. When finished, suggest that they make some dialogues with their partner, using the words in conversation.

Spot The Slang!

I love using music in my classes, so this one always has me looking forward to the lesson!

  1. Choose a song that has some slang in it, preferably not one with too much profanity in it. Principal’s Office by Young MC is good example. Find it here; Principal’s Office – Young MC.
  2. Print out the lyrics. Again, I would suggest doing this as a pair-working activity.
  3. Get students to identify the different slang expressions and guess their meaning from the context.
  4. As an easier variation, underline the slang expressions beforehand and simply get the students to work out the meanings.
  5. Once they understand the target language, get them to make some sentences or role plays to practise!

Word Substitution

This game is for students that have a higher level of slang vocabulary!

I have two variations of this. It depends on which one you find more fun I guess!

  1. Get 10 or so slang words and think about their proper English equivalents.
  2. Write those English versions into a short paragraph of text on any subject where they all make sense.
  3. Get students to read the paragraph and substitute the English versions for slang words!
  4. You could also do this the other way around for students that don’t have the slang vocabulary to complete it.


I think it’s fun to stick the phrases around the room as well! Students can get active, moving around the room with their partner and substituting the phrases one by one. First team to get a correct list wins!

Did you have fun with these? Do you have more activities to share? Let me know in the comments below!







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